Making Education More Human

  • 2 Min Read

Highlights from John Baker's introduction speech at Fusion 2018

This morning, I gave the opening speech at Fusion 2018.

I can’t speak for the audience, but I had a great time! There’s nothing like the energy I get from talking about education – whether it’s one on one or to a packed auditorium of amazing educators.

What I talked about this year is a big idea — making education more human by using the power of technology.

I know it sounds like an oxymoron, but here’s how I think about it:

Learning is really about two things — “settled knowledge” and “study.” Settled knowledge is information that we’ve all agreed is true and factual. It’s critical information. Science, math and language are all examples of settled knowledge. It’s critical to most jobs. For example, you want your doctor to have a pretty good grasp of settled knowledge when it comes to medicine.

We live in a time when all of us have unfettered access to an incredible amount of settled knowledge. We carry libraries around in the palms of our hands. We also have educational technologies that allow us to carve out an individual path for learners through settled knowledge. Even in a crowded classroom, better than ever before we can assess learners’ personal competency of knowledge, remediating where we need to and accelerating them through the curriculum where they show mastery. This leaves more time for study — and that’s where the human element comes in.

John Baker kicking off Fusion 2018

If you go back to the old Latin roots of the word “study,” you discover the original definition is all about zeal, pursuit and desire. We think of “studying” as cramming for a test, but it’s meant to be more than that. It’s supposed to be about the passionate and wholehearted embrace of learning. It’s about taking opportunities to deepen our understanding of a subject. It’s about doing original research. Creating a new dance move. Starting a business. Technology can help here, too, but this is the part of learning that, for me at least, is the most powerfully and deeply human.

I’ll be thinking and talking a lot more about this idea in the year ahead. I also want to know what you think — so if you see me here at Fusion or on the road in the next little while, let’s talk about it.

It’s just one more way we at D2L are inspired by you — by your excellent teaching. And by your learners, and their desire to learn.

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